Times-Call (Longmont)

Joseph back in the saddle

Denver bringing back former head coach as defensive coordinato­r

- Pgabriel@denverpost.com

Vance Joseph’s second act in Denver is at hand.

The former Broncos head coach, fired following the 2018 season after an unsuccessf­ul twoyear run, is returning to the franchise to serve as Sean Payton’s defensive coordinato­r, multiple league sources confirmed to The Post on Thursday morning.

He is the centerpiec­e of several staff hires in the process of being finalized by Payton, who is expected to retain defensive backs coach Christian Parker and defensive line coach Marcus Dixon. Others, sources told The Post, include the following:

• Offensive assistant Joe Lombardi

• Quarterbac­ks coach Davis Webb

• Inside linebacker­s coach Greg Manusky

• Outside linebacker­s coach Michael Wilhoite

• Wide receivers coach Keary Colbert

None have a more unique connection to Denver than Joseph, 50, who has spent the past four seasons serving as Arizona’s defensive coordinato­r after going 1121 in two seasons as the Broncos’ head coach.

In Denver, he should have full authority over the defense given Payton’s offensive expertise and his experience running a defense.

Joseph succeeded Gary Kubiak after the 2016 season but lasted only two seasons as the Broncos’ head coaching carousel tilted into high gear. He was succeeded by Vic Fangio for three seasons and then Nathaniel Hackett for just 15 games before Denver hired Payton in recent weeks.

Denver had stout defenses at times under Joseph but struggled mightily on offense.

Joseph and the Cardinals came to Denver in December and the Broncos prevailed, 24-15. That week, Joseph was asked about his time as the head coach.

“I’m over it. It was never a sore spot,” Joseph said then. “That’s a great opportunit­y to be a head coach in the NFL. It didn’t work out, but I wasn’t the first guy and I won’t be the last. There were never any ill feelings. It was just a job, it didn’t get done and you move on.”

When Joseph was hired in 2017, he had spent just one year as a defensive coordinato­r in Miami. Before that, he coached defensive backs for several teams, including Cincinnati, Houston and San Francisco. Perhaps his best defenses were the talented Broncos groups he oversaw in 2017 and ’18, but Denver — as it has since Kubiak retired — failed to score points consistent­ly on offense.

Now, he’s only got one unit to

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